Wikipedia entries for several high-profile victims of police brutality and misconduct have been edited by computers from the New York Police Department's network, according to Capital New York. The entries include descriptions of the death of Eric Garner, Sean Bell and Amadou Diallo, as well as general entries on stop-and-frisk and other NYPD controversies.
"The matter is under internal review," said NYPD spokesperson, Det. Cheryl Crispin, in an email to Capital New York.
The edits all improve the legitimacy of police actions. For instance, on the "Death of Eric Garner" Wikipedia entry, "Garner raised both his arms in the air" was changed to "Garner flailed his arms about as he spoke," and the sentence "Garner, who was considerably larger than any of the officers, continued to struggle with them," was added.
Capital New York's Kelly Weill reports:
This process of revision and counterrevision is typical of Wikipedia’s self-policing user community. The website allows anyone to edit entries, either logged in with a Wikipedia account, or anonymously, in which case the website logs the user’s IP address and creates a publicly available record of the user’s edits. Edits from 1 Police Plaza were made anonymously, therefore creating a permanent Wikipedia log of edits made on NYPD IP addresses. Using this information, Capital was able to write a computer program that would search Wikipedia for all anonymous edits made on the range of IP addressesregistered to 1 Police Plaza.
A complete list of Wikipedia pages edited by an NYPD IP address is available here.